GATES MILLS — Representatives of the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission last week detailed for council and residents services that could be provided as local officials begin revising the outdated village master plan.

Mayor Karen Schneider asked planning commission members to speak at the May 14 council meeting after residents strongly opposed a proposed housing development on Chagrin River Road.

Developer Nick Lemmo informally presented a plan to build 16 houses on 16.5 acres, which is contrary to the village’s 5-acre per residence zoning requirement. After many residents voiced concerns with the housing development, council members agreed that the best course of action was to revise the master plan, which dates back to 1997, and involve the community in the process.

“The best thing that came out of this is that we’re going to look at a master plan,” Mayor Schneider said.

Senior planner Patrick Hewitt and planner Micah Stryker explained that the county commission offers a grant for communities to create or revise master plans. The grant is for in-kind services only, so the planners would help draft a master plan at no charge to the municipality. The application deadline is June 7 and village officials said that they plan to apply for the grant.

Mr. Stryker defined a master plan as a long-term plan for how a community wants to grow and develop in the future and involves input from community stakeholders, such as residents.

“We’re here to help the county plan for its future,” he said.

The master planning process has five steps, Mr. Stryker said, including studying current conditions, collecting community input, stating goals and actions, outlining strategies and priorities and completing a master plan document.

Councilwoman Sandra Turner noted that Gates Mills is unique due to its rural appearance and lack of commercial enterprises. She asked if the commission had experience working with similar communities. Mr. Hewitt said that the master plan would be developed to reflect the character of the community.

Councilman Jay “Chip” AuWerter asked if county planners followed trends with septic systems. Mr. Hewitt said that the planners have knowledge in a variety of areas, but added that they also partner with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for more information.

Among the group of residents gathered at the meeting was Cairn Lane resident Jerry Bohinc who sought clarification on how the planning commission works. Mr. Hewitt described the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission as consultants and said that it is an independent agency that is not affiliated with the county, despite its name

Mr. Hewitt said the process takes up to 18 months.

Chagrin River Road resident Celeste McClung asked if the village was considering other agencies for master planning. Mr. AuWerter said that the company that did the last master plan, Pflum, Klausmeier and Gehrum Consultants, Inc., is no longer in business. Mr. AuWerter said while he is researching other agencies, the village may be more likely to use the county planning commission services.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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